These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Michigan For 2018


We used science and data to determine which places in Michigan are basically dead broke.

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Michigan brings to mind images of Lansing, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.

However, like all states, Michigan has certain places that are going on hard times. These places have an above average percent of people that are living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.

With all the talk about income inequality going on around the country, we thought it prudent to take a look at the places in each state that are struggling to make it even as the economy continues to improve. So we set our sites on bringing attention to the places in Michigan that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 148 places in Michigan with more than 5,000 people.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Wolverine State for 2018:

  1. Highland Park (Photos)
  2. Benton Harbor (Photos)
  3. Flint (Photos)
  4. Muskegon Heights (Photos)
  5. Dowagiac (Photos)
  6. Hamtramck (Photos)
  7. Detroit (Photos)
  8. River Rouge (Photos)
  9. Big Rapids (Photos)
  10. Ecorse (Photos)

Again, this isn’t a commentary on the people that live there or the vibrant culture and traditions of these places. Instead, it’s just a look at the facts.

And according to the facts, Highland Park is the poorest place in Michigan for 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Michigan or the most dangerous.

For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Michigan For 2018

The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think about determining the poorest places is to simply the poverty rate. That is, the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household of a certain size.

However, we don’t think that one statistic wholly encompasses what it means to be one of the ‘poorest places’. So we looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2012-2016 American Community Survey:

  • Poverty Level
  • Median Household Income adjusted for the cost of living
  • Unemployment Rate

The ‘median household income adjusted for the cost of living’ attempts to gauge how expensive it is to live in a place and how that impacts the quality of life. For example, a town might have fewer people living below the official poverty line, but the cost of living is so high they’d still feel poor.

The unemployment rate tries to capture the prospects for improvement in the city or town. If more people are employed, the brighter the future looks and vice versa.

After we collected the data for all 148 places with more than 5,000 people in Michigan, we ranked each place from 1 to 148 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.

We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a ‘Poor Score’ with the place having the lowest overall Poor Score, Highland Park, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In Michigan For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 148 places.

1. Highland Park

Highland Park, Michigan

Population: 10,978
Median Income: $17,455
Unemployment Rate: 28.9%
Poverty Rate: 46.8%
More on Highland Park: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Highland Park, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Michigan thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 10,978 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Michigan and the 3rd highest poverty rate. At the very least, the cost of living ranks in the bottom 15% of place in the state, so things like housing are relatively affordable.

User comment that mentions Highland Park: Harper Woods and Highland Park are not suburbs.

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2. Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor, Michigan

Population: 9,988
Median Income: $18,962
Unemployment Rate: 23.0%
Poverty Rate: 49.2%
More on Benton Harbor: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The second poorest city in Michigan is Benton Harbor.

The city ranks as having the 2nd highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 4th highest in the Wolverine State.

3. Flint

Flint, Michigan

Source: Public domain

Population: 98,918
Median Income: $25,650
Unemployment Rate: 23.7%
Poverty Rate: 41.9%
More on Flint: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Placing as the third poorest city, Flint’s median income ranks as the 6th lowest.

And that’s a sign that there’s a relatively substantial jump in the quality of the economy from second to third place on our list. The poverty rate is 41.9% and ranks near the bottom of places in the state.

But what makes up for the relatively low incomes of the city is its low cost of living. The income you do make here goes further than in most parts of the Wolverine State.

4. Muskegon Heights

Muskegon Heights, Michigan

Population: 10,792
Median Income: $21,903
Unemployment Rate: 20.9%
Poverty Rate: 43.5%
More on Muskegon Heights: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Muskegon Heights ranks as the fourth poorest place in Michigan.

The town ranks as having the 3rd lowest median household income and the 6th highest incidence of poverty in the state.

That being said, there’s still a ton of cultural diversity in the city as it hosts many events throughout the year.

5. Dowagiac

Dowagiac, Michigan

Source: Public domain

Population: 5,863
Median Income: $26,201
Unemployment Rate: 18.6%
Poverty Rate: 42.1%
More on Dowagiac: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The fifth poorest city in Michigan is Dowagiac.

The city ranks as having the 7th lowest median income in the state. However, an extremely low cost of living prevents a good number of folks from living in poverty as the poverty rate only ranks as the 7th highest in Michigan.

Still not the best news for Dowagiac.

6. Hamtramck

Hamtramck, Michigan

Population: 21,985
Median Income: $23,609
Unemployment Rate: 14.1%
Poverty Rate: 49.7%
More on Hamtramck: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Hamtramck ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Wolverine State.

It ranks as having the 1st highest incidence of poverty and the 17th highest unemployment rate.

7. Detroit

Detroit, Michigan

Population: 683,443
Median Income: $26,249
Unemployment Rate: 22.1%
Poverty Rate: 39.4%
More on Detroit: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Detroit places as the seventh poorest city in Michigan.

The city of over 683,443 ranks as having the 12th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

8. River Rouge

River Rouge, Michigan

Source: Public domain

Population: 7,609
Median Income: $27,463
Unemployment Rate: 23.3%
Poverty Rate: 41.0%
More on River Rouge: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

River Rouge ranks as the eighth poorest city in Michigan.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 3rd highest in the state.

9. Big Rapids

Big Rapids, Michigan

Population: 10,495
Median Income: $24,524
Unemployment Rate: 14.1%
Poverty Rate: 44.0%
More on Big Rapids: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Big Rapids couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Michigan; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 5th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Big Rapids ranks as having the 5th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Michigan.

10. Ecorse

Ecorse, Michigan

Population: 9,270
Median Income: $26,496
Unemployment Rate: 21.4%
Poverty Rate: 33.6%
More on Ecorse: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Michigan is Ecorse.

The city of 9,270 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Wolverine State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Michigan For 2018

Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Michigan, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in Michigan.

When you look at the data, the cities and places mentioned above meet the criteria for being at the very bottom of the income ladder for everyone that lives there.

If you’re curious enough, here are the richest cities in Michigan, according to data:

Richest: Beverly Hills
2nd Richest: East Grand Rapids
3rd Richest: Huntington Woods

For more Michigan reading , check out:

  • 10 Most Dangerous Places in Michigan
  • 10 Safest Places In Michigan
  • 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Michigan
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Michigan

    Rank City Poverty Rate
    1 Highland Park 46.8%
    2 Benton Harbor 49.2%
    3 Flint 41.9%
    4 Muskegon Heights 43.5%
    5 Dowagiac 42.1%
    6 Hamtramck 49.7%
    7 Detroit 39.4%
    8 River Rouge 41.0%
    9 Big Rapids 44.0%
    10 Ecorse 33.6%
    11 Muskegon 37.4%
    12 Saginaw 34.7%
    13 Pontiac 34.4%
    14 Jackson 36.3%
    15 Inkster 33.6%
    16 Ionia 33.1%
    17 Ironwood 30.8%
    18 Mount Pleasant 41.0%
    19 Albion 30.4%
    20 Port Huron 27.8%
    21 East Lansing 44.2%
    22 Lapeer 22.8%
    23 Ypsilanti 31.3%
    24 Hillsdale 30.5%
    25 Springfield 28.9%
    26 Niles 30.6%
    27 Greenville 27.8%
    28 Adrian 27.0%
    29 Alma 27.3%
    30 Lansing 29.5%
    31 Kalamazoo 32.7%
    32 Bay City 23.1%
    33 Mount Clemens 23.1%
    34 Melvindale 31.6%
    35 Escanaba 24.2%
    36 Owosso 24.3%
    37 Cadillac 22.2%
    38 Houghton 41.7%
    39 Sturgis 25.1%
    40 Ludington 17.3%
    41 Sault Ste. Marie 25.7%
    42 Hazel Park 25.2%
    43 Manistee 20.5%
    44 Alpena 23.5%
    45 Taylor 20.8%
    46 Lincoln Park 21.2%
    47 Burton 21.9%
    48 Belding 19.2%
    49 Menominee 18.7%
    50 Battle Creek 20.8%
    51 Marquette 25.4%
    52 Romulus 19.3%
    53 Center Line 19.8%
    54 Eastpointe 19.4%
    55 Grand Rapids 25.1%
    56 Dearborn 29.1%
    57 Warren 19.4%
    58 Three Rivers 23.7%
    59 Roseville 18.3%
    60 St. Louis 18.3%
    61 Monroe 19.8%
    62 Charlotte 19.9%
    63 Dearborn Heights 20.3%
    64 Harper Woods 13.4%
    65 Wayne 20.1%
    66 Ishpeming 20.9%
    67 Flushing 15.5%
    68 Coldwater 19.2%
    69 Southfield 14.8%
    70 Eaton Rapids 16.9%
    71 Madison Heights 17.7%
    72 Grand Blanc 16.5%
    73 Oak Park 15.8%
    74 Westland 14.9%
    75 Hastings 18.7%
    76 Iron Mountain 17.4%
    77 Fenton 14.8%
    78 St. Johns 19.8%
    79 Kingsford 14.1%
    80 Howell 17.0%
    81 Petoskey 9.7%
    82 Holly 14.9%
    83 Allegan 10.6%
    84 Swartz Creek 10.8%
    85 Wyoming 15.9%
    86 Richmond 12.6%
    87 Wyandotte 10.4%
    88 Southgate 11.8%
    89 Holland 16.5%
    90 Ann Arbor 23.4%
    91 Grand Haven 9.6%
    92 Zeeland 15.2%
    93 Midland 14.6%
    94 Auburn Hills 12.9%
    95 Hudsonville 9.3%
    96 Kentwood 14.6%
    97 St. Clair 14.1%
    98 Ferndale 14.9%
    99 Marshall 14.4%
    100 Flat Rock 10.5%

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